oda: Chrome tab with a sad face on blue-violet field field (degoogle)
My health is still on the really bad side, so I haven't been doing much more than skimming and collecting links.

Some dribs and drabs of progress on the De-Googlification front:

  • Inspiration: I reread Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, to get into the mood.... (the deadtree edition, not the free ebook, as when I'm sick I have less trouble with paper than with screens.) It holds up surprisingly well.

  • Search: Am doing just fine on DuckDuckGo. I love that it's customizable, though the default look is good enough for me. It's exactly what I want in a search engine, especially with the lack of tracking, and if I want different results it will run the same search again through another engine -- proxying to hide the tracking info. It's kind of startling what the world looks like outside of the filter bubble. Noisier, yes, but more evenhanded.

  • Subjot: Yeah, I'm counting this. Subjects and comments really hit a sweet spot for me. It's a for-profit startup but the dev team is amazingly responsive and doesn't seem to want to do anything evil; their ideas in the way of advertising etc. all make sense to me, and they may even end up with a dual-track ad-supported/subscription model like LJ. After DW/LJ this is the most pleasant place I visit every day, though Diaspora is quite nice (the partial implementation of Markdown and lack of collapsing of reshares makes D* a little too cluttery to be soothing.) I have even gotten oda there. Anyhow, this counts because it's a social site I actually enjoy.

  • Meanwhile, I have finally hit my last straw with Facebook. I'm tired of all of the reactive privacy, having to opt out to their brilliant new changes. I'm tired of people having to expose serious security issues in Facebook to get them to fix them. This "push sloppy changes and see who screams" strategy is old. Also, the current UI is a horrendous mess. Clearly a fine time to leave, and I'll be out of there by the end of October (allowing for the two week period of removal.) Of course that doesn't mean anything is actually deleted, just tagged as deleted. Feh. In the meantime I've also set up some AdBlock plus filters to be more aggressive about them.

  • Proxy options: I've been trying out TOR and VPNReactor. The former is a little more obfuscated, but any non-SSL content is in the clear for the last exit router, so I'm leery of using it for anything that's not fully encrypted or for read-only browsing -- session-based HTTP seems risky. VPNReactor will let me use my iPod on hotspots without worrying about my sessions getting hijacked by Firesheep. Sadly it doesn't work for my Android so I will want to use that only on trustworthy wifi networks and not open hotspots (my phone has unlimited, if slow and cruddy, 3g so this isn't exactly the end of the world; the iPod support on the other hand is lovely to have for my wifi-only critter, though I'm less likely to use that on hotspots now that I have a phone.) TOR will show Facebook in a satisfactory if slow-as-a-slug manner, and the Browser bundle was easy to install and use.

  • Email/GMail: My kind friend who runs my site for me is working on getting an IMAP server (Dovecot) up and running there. I've been using mutt for years and the approach is primitive and clunky. I only back up my mail to GMail so I have some flexibility on what I can do, but I need something web accessible so that my husband doesn't need to install anything to see his mail from work. So the options are either to find an email provider with a webmail UI and forward a copy of our mail to that, or to find a sturdy webmail server for my FreeBSD site. (This would actually be my ideal as it means edit operations happen on the live archive instead of the backup. Husband would much prefer to use a web interface for his email activity.) I've had no energy for assessing webmail providers and a general suspicion of PHP, so there's a lot of friction on this one.

  • Email/GMail, Part 2: Thunderbird. Finally got around to getting it ready and am using it to grab stuff. It's a little obtuse but works all right so far, though appears to have some issues with DNS leaking if combined with TOR. It also has the advantage of, if set to copy full messages down, providing a local email backup -- this means that if I get IMAP+webmail on my server I can stop forwarding a backup. If my husband likes this client all right, then he's willing to use this and his phone as clients and can put up with not having webmail access, woot.


I've also been playing around with accessibility extensions, but that's another post.
oda: zombie face on a blue-violet plane (personal)
What I have been up to:

Not a lot.... Health issues, mostly, have had me at basic day to day. Which isn't bad, really, but it means I haven't had a lot of cognitive surplus. I want to be doing more, but pushing it won't help, so I am not.

Because it's mostly busywork and hence can be done as a bear of very little brain, I've done a major cleaning of my Facebook account, because I am still using it (for now) to keep in touch with family, but I don't think their privacy is going to get any better either. So: fixed a lot of settings there, and deleted all of the fluff from my Wall, likes and things, and tried to zap everything that my name points to in public. Ruthlessly deleted anything I'd posted that no one had touched. While none of it is earth shattering in the least, I am not really fond of having a bunch of "I like pie" trivia under my full legal name.

I am not hardcore enough to do some of the things described in danah boyd's post on how "Real Names" Policies Are an Abuse of Power like deactivating my account when I'm not actively logged in, or scrubbing everything off my wall even if other people have commented, or scrubbing my comments off other people's posts. That feels like it's going too far.

Not sure how I feel about Google+ right now. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And hard to think clearly about when I'm on a bad part of my particular health curve.

I would like to be able to think of social networks as only fun and only about the people, and not about the enormous amount of work it takes to have a modicum of privacy, because it wasn't designed in from the beginning. The privacy issue is enormous, and bigger than these sites, and it's going to quietly (and not so quietly) hurt people and a lot of people don't even realize it yet.

I wish it were easier to get my family over here, where I actually feel comfortable, welcome, and included. I like the community on Diaspora, a lot, but still have concerns about the privacy. I like the vibe and community on Subjot. It's short-form and fully-public now but will including private later, and it has delicious topics, just like I wanted baked into Google+. Oh yes, that's another thing I'm trying out, Subjot, but it's been so low-key and easy that I find it's very natural. Though now I tend to reach for it instead of twitter. Longer form than twitter with topics and real comments and a restful UI? Yes, please. I was only going to look but I thought I'd just post one thing and there I still am; I like it a lot.

I've also switched to DuckDuckGo, which is hardly even-minded of me as I didn't try the other alternatives, but I tried it, liked it well enough, liked some features very much indeed, and stopped. Even just switching search engines is a pretty big change for me right now.

The amount of rambling I am doing is probably some indication of why I haven't been posting anything structured lately.

July 2012

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